State and major urban area fusion centers (fusion centers) and the Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTFs) led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) serve distinct, but complementary roles in securing the homeland. Fusion centers are owned and operated by state and local entities and are uniquely situated to empower front-line law enforcement, public safety, fire service, emergency response, public health, and private sector security personnel to lawfully gather and share threat-related information. The FBI created, coordinates, and manages JTTFs, which primarily focus on terrorism-related investigations. Both rely on expertise and information derived from all levels of government to support their efforts.
Fusion Center Overview
As described in the National Strategy for Information Sharing1, fusion centers serve as focal points within the state and local environment for the receipt, analysis, gathering, and sharing of threat-related information among federal and state, local, tribal, and territorial (SLTT) partners. They produce actionable intelligence for dissemination, which can aid other law enforcement organizations, including the JTTFs, in their investigative operations.
Owned and operated by state and local entities, fusion centers serve the specific needs of their jurisdictions while supporting the broader homeland security enterprise. Fusion centers overlay national intelligence with local, state, and regional information, enhancing understanding of the threat environment across all levels of government. They augment the federal government's analytic capability and enhance situational awareness in order to protect the nation.
Fusion centers leverage trusted relationships within the SLTT environment to assist law enforcement and homeland security partners in preventing, protecting against, and responding to crime and terrorism. They support the implementation of risk-based, information-driven prevention, response, and consequence management programs within their respective communities. Further, fusion centers across the nation form a National Network bridging jurisdictional boundaries to provide effective communication channels and collaborative opportunities.
FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force Overview
JTTFs are multi-jurisdictional task forces established to conduct terrorism-related investigations. JTTFs focus primarily on terrorism-related issues, with specific regard to terrorism investigations with local, regional, national, and international implications. Investigations conducted by JTTFs are focused on known threat actors or identified individuals who meet the thresholds established in accordance with the Attorney General Guidelines for Domestic FBI Operations2 to initiate assessments or investigations. Using the information derived from FBI Field Office Field Intelligence Groups (FIGs)3 and JTTF operations, the FBI develops intelligence products on significant developments or trends related to terrorism. These intelligence products may be leveraged by SLTT and private sector partners to support their law enforcement and homeland security activities, such as intelligence-led policing efforts, implementing protective measures, or other target hardening initiatives.
|Fusion Centers||Joint Terrorism Task Forces|
Managed by state and local authorities, and include federal, SLTT, and private sector partners from multiple disciplines (including law enforcement, public safety, fire service, emergency response, public health, and critical infrastructure)
Managed by FBI, and include federal and SLTT law enforcement partners
Deal with criminal, public safety, and terrorism matters across multiple disciplines
Deal primarily with terrorism matters and other criminal matters related to various aspects of the counterterrorism mission
Share information across disparate disciplines on topics such as terrorism, criminal activity, and public safety
Work with SLTT partners to share critical infrastructure information with the federal government
Fusion centers add value to their jurisdictional customers by providing a state and local context to threat information and collaborate with the Federal Government to enhance the national threat picture
104 JTTFs investigate terrorism cases across the FBI's 56 field offices and coordinate their efforts via the National Joint Terrorism Task Force, a fusion of local, state, and federal agencies acting as an integrated force to combat terrorism on a national and international scale
Serve as centers of analytic excellence to assess local implications of threat information to (1) produce actionable intelligence for dissemination to law enforcement and homeland security agencies, and (2) perform services in response to customers' needs
Primarily conduct terrorism investigations; however JTTFs share intelligence with law enforcement and homeland security agencies, as appropriate
Collaborative Efforts of Fusion Centers and Joint Terrorism Task Forces
As partners in the national homeland security enterprise, fusion centers and JTTFs collaborate to add value to their respective primary missions: fusion centers to analyze and share intelligence and JTTFs to conduct investigations. Fusion centers and JTTFs collaboratively leverage their analytic and investigative capabilities to safeguard our homeland and prevent criminal and terrorist activities.
Fusion centers provide all terrorism-related tips and leads to JTTFs for investigation. An example was demonstrated after the attempted bombing of Times Square by Faisal Shahzad on May 1, 2010. Analysts at the Florida Fusion Center discovered Shahzad was associated with two subjects that had resided in their state and passed this information along to JTTFs to further pursue leads, conduct investigations, and support corroboration.
While JTTFs get their information from a variety of sources, fusion centers also aid in the sharing of intelligence and assist the FBI by providing information gathered through combining the knowledge, expertise, and information resident within local law enforcement and homeland security agencies operating throughout the nation. Additionally, the FBI collaborates with fusion center personnel on analyses and recommendations for protective measures or preventive action. The FBI also leverages fusion center staff with appropriate clearances or skills to supplement analytic and/or investigative activities during periods of heightened threat.
1National Strategy for Information Sharing, October 2007
2Attorney General Guidelines for Domestic FBI Operations, Department of Justice, September 2008
3FIGs perform intelligence functions through integrated teams of intelligence analysts, language analysts, physical surveillance specialists, and a dedicated number of special agents. FIGs coordinate, manage, and execute all of the functions of the intelligence cycle in the field in support of the FBI mission.